In belt-tightening times, Northwest Fourth Fest organizers touted the cooperation of the four towns who shared the costs of one of the biggest Fourth of July celebrations in the suburbs.
Now, even that price tag has become too costly for Hanover Park trustees facing budget constraints.
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Officials moved to drop out of this year's sprawling event, held over four days on the grounds of the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates. The decision becomes official when the village board approves the proposed budget, expected in March.
That leaves Fourth Fest with only two remaining partners -- Hoffman Estates and Hanover Township. In December, Elgin officials announced the city would bow out.
The exits could threaten the feel of a regional event that seemed to be rebounding from a significant deficit in its inaugural year. Last July's Fourth Fest posted roughly $50,000 in losses, down from $128,000 in 2012.
Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod is confident organizers will secure corporate sponsors to make up for the loss of financing from the two towns.
"We regret the fact that those two communities aren't going to be formally involved in it, but we will see what the future holds," McLeod said.
The Elgin City Council is set to discuss several alternatives Wednesday night, including a concert and fireworks show hosted by the Grand Victoria Casino. The city would cover the cost of personnel, while the casino would bankroll the entertainment.
Historically, Hanover Park has never held fireworks, turning to Fourth Fest to provide residents with entertainment the village couldn't afford on its own. And there are no immediate plans for a substitute.
"Fireworks is probably out of the question in Hanover Park," Mayor Rodney Craig said.
Last July, the village contributed $10,000 to the young festival, plus about $12,000 in equipment and manpower.
Leaders billed the Fourth Fest fireworks -- set to a live performance by the Elgin Symphony Orchestra last July -- as the largest spectacle in the region.
"It was just an absolute marvelous evening," Craig said.
He opposed the village finance committee's recommendation to cut ties.
Craig said Fourth Fest gave police and fire departments the chance to coordinate the logistics of a major event.
"Any opportunity to work with our neighboring communities, I'm all behind it," Craig said. "It builds cohesiveness and collaboration."
But several trustees questioned the value of participating.
Officials have not tracked how many Hanover Park residents attended. But Fourth Fest featured only one Hanover Park vendor, Rosati's Pizza. Trustee Ed Zimel said the money would be better spent on the village.
"We weren't getting the return on investment," he said.
Meanwhile, the budget covers eight months as Hanover Park switches from a fiscal year starting May 1 to a calendar year for financial planning. The spending blueprint is projected to generate a nearly $30,000 surplus.
But officials are working to plug an estimated $600,000 deficit in the tentative 2015 budget, effective next January.
Officials didn't rule out an eventual return to Fourth Fest.
Craig is looking for other options.
"I would like to see what's our best alternative to doing nothing," he said.